According to the American Association of Community Colleges, 46 percent of U.S. undergraduates attend a community college. And the vast majority of them plan to transfer to a four-year college or institution.
As an admissions representative for the largest community college in Georgia, I am reminded of this fact every spring during our graduation ceremony where hundreds of graduates receive their associate degrees and prepare to transfer.
Most four-year colleges and institutions accept transfer students. The college transfer process may seem daunting, but follow these steps and you, too, can have a smooth transfer.
Step 1: Get ahead by getting started
Mark Twain said, “The secret to getting ahead is to get started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex, overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.”
Your first task in the transfer timeline is to do some self-assessment and identify your intended major. The sooner you decide on your major, the better off you are. Don’t waste valuable time earning credits that will not count toward your major. Pay close attention to your interests and passions, and determine related occupations.
Step 2: Prepare to transfer
Take charge of your college education and use the career and counseling services at your community college.
Try to meet with an adviser every semester to review your student education plan. At the very least, schedule a review after you complete 30 credit hours and again after 60.
Ask about articulation or curriculum transfer agreements your college may have with four-year colleges or institutions. Such agreements are designed to make the college transfer process smooth by ensuring your courses are transferable.
The American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO) has a great transfer and articulation Web site at aacrao.org, where you can view state-by-state profiles. Always keep your course outlines and syllabi from community college in case a course is questioned. Supportive documentation can help save time and money.
Step 3: Research and choose a college
The college transfer process is not limited to your local area or state. You can transfer anywhere your heart desires, so long as you meet the transfer admission requirements.
Research and identify at least three colleges and visit each one. Make a list of questions and meet with admission representatives so there is no confusion about the transfer requirements. I also recommend a meeting with the department head or faculty member of your major so you can learn more about their program and properly contrast and compare among colleges.
Step 4: Apply
Familiarize yourself with the application deadline of your transfer college of interest. Do not procrastinate; apply early.
Transfer admission requirements primarily focus on a student’s collegiate GPA and course record. If you have fewer than 30 credits completed at a college as a transfer student, you will have to meet the institution’s standards for freshmen. Financial aid deadlines are equally important to adhere to, as well as deposits for housing and meal plans.
Step 5: Seek out a peer connection
Community colleges typically have small class sizes, so the idea of transferring to a large four-year college or university might be unnerving. Establishing a peer connection early can help make the transfer process easier.
Many colleges now have social networking opportunities for new and current students so peer connections can be quickly established. A little effort in this area can go a long way toward making your transfer process enjoyable.
Chad Bryant is senior admissions representative for Georgia Perimeter College (gpc.edu). He lives in Atlanta.